“Are there any good ones left?”
Carbon Dating is a guilty pleasure of a play, caught somewhere between Bridget Jones and Take Me Out. Newly-established theatre company OutFox productions presents the UK premiere of the play, by the awarding-winning Australian writer Ron Elisha. Since we have all had dates both good and bad, the comedy of those situations shines through.
We are greeted by waiter Damien (Will Parrott), who guides us through a menagerie of first dates. The intimate space of the theatre makes us feel that we are indeed sitting in the restaurant alongside the characters, eavesdropping on conversations that are by turn funny and excruciating. Designer Gina Rose Lee and Director John Fricker have worked hard to recreate a restaurant, down to the little details of those candles that make the mood oh-so-romantic. The script’s short scenes, as we move from one pair of characters’ story to the next, could potentially have made the play feel disjointed, but it flowed wonderfully from scene to scene. The omnipresent waiter Damien, who sees everything and yet never gets involved, plays out the scene changes themselves effortlessly. Elisha’s script is very naturalistic; the comic moments are not forced but are woven easily into the dialogue. The acting is wonderfully real, the characters genuinely plucked from everyday life, with some great comedic performances. Chloe, played by Laura Evelyn, deserves particular credit for portraying the comedy in her character’s almost heart-breaking story without getting weighed down by the sadness of it. Noah James’s Ted is also touchingly portrayed as the guy who no one wants to go out with.
The play perhaps teeters on the edge of cliché, but never quite falls in. The actress waiting on tables until her big break comes. The endless number of female characters who are not quite over their last boyfriend. The ex-boyfriend who turns out to be gay. There is nothing new in the ideas or the storyline; it’s not one that is going to get you thinking. But one thing unites them all: their search for love and it leaves you wondering whether love is ever going to be found in these contrived, ridiculously awkward situations. It’s enough to put anyone off going on a blind date for life. Yet it’s all harmless fun, and there’s nothing better than watching those ‘I’m going to look back on this in the future and laugh’ situations play out before you.
While there is nothing groundbreaking about the play, it is ridiculously watchable, and unless you are on a first date (which might be a bit awkward) it is definitely worth a watch. The prefect pre-Christmas rom-com, in theatre form.
Carbon Dating is running at the Jack Studio Theatre until 1 December 2012. For more information and tickets, see the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre website.